- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 18, 2004

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Running back Maurice Fenner and quarterback Justin Rascati ran for two touchdowns apiece and James Madison won its first national championship with a 31-21 victory over Montana in the Division I-AA title game last night.

The Dukes rolled up 314 yards rushing. Fenner had 164 yards on 29 carries, and Rascati ran for 57 yards on 11 carries.

The Dukes (13-2) were the first team to reach the title game by winning all three playoff games on the road as they advanced past the second round for the first time.

The two-time champion Grizzlies (12-3), playing in their fifth title game, took a 21-17 lead in the third quarter but couldn’t stop James Madison’s rushing attack.

Trailing by four points, James Madison responded with a 72-yard drive — all on the ground. Fenner capped the drive by pounding in for a score from the 1, putting the Dukes ahead for good.

Montana missed a 31-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter that would have tied the game, and the Dukes all but sealed the title on their next drive.

Rascati scored on a 6-yard run one play after getting hit in the head, a play that resulted in a roughing the passer penalty on Montana’s Kerry Mullan and gave James Madison a first down.

The Grizzlies had a chance to rally, but James Madison’s Clint Kent intercepted Craig Ochs’ pass with 6:17 remaining, and Montana was unable to move the ball the rest of the game.

James Madison’s fans threw yellow streamers and some even jumped down from the stands onto the field to celebrate with the team as the final seconds ticked off the clock. All stayed on the field during a short fireworks show while security officials took down the goal posts.

Montana was trying to win the school’s third title, a championship that would have provided a perfect ending to Ochs’ college career. The senior quarterback transferred from Colorado in the middle of the 2002 season after sustaining several concussions and having differences with coach Gary Barnett.

Ochs struggled some with injuries last season but had a fabulous senior year. He finished 29-for-38 for 371 yards and three touchdowns.

However, it was James Madison’s quarterback transfer who was the star of this game.

Rascati, who left Louisville after last season, was 13-for-18 for 132 yards.

Fenner and Alvin Banks rotated throughout the first part of the season before both were injured and missed several games. Raymond Hines filled in admirably, but he hurt his ribs in last week’s win over William & Mary and didn’t play last night.

Both of Fenner’s touchdown runs were from 1 yard, the first coming in the second quarter and giving James Madison a 10-7 lead.

Rascati scored from 11 yards to extend the Dukes’ lead after halftime. Ochs threw touchdown passes Levander Segars and Willie Walden in the third quarter.

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